Ground rules for boomerang kids
Lay down some rules so you don’t end up ruing the day you let your adult children move back home.
According to the stats man, we are into new territory when it comes to adult children living at home. In 2010, 51% of young adults, aged 20-29 were living with their parents. And almost a quarter of those had been out of the nest and had boomeranged home. And lest you think this was all economically driven, many of these young adults are working full-time.
If your kids are determined to remain in the nest, and you’re fine with having the extra company, at the very least you should lay down some rules so you don’t end up ruing the day you took ‘em back. If you let your young’uns move home and keep acting like young’uns, you’re not doing them a service. You’re crippling them by not allowing them to achieve their personal independence.
Here are some ground rules to keep in mind:
Rule #1: Everyone working pays. Since the rule of thumb is to spend 35% of your net income on shelter, if Sonny Boy or Darling Daughter are living at home, insist that they cough up their fair share. I don’t care what you do with the money: go on a vacation, save for retirement, sock it away to return as a gift when they buy their first home. But make ‘em pay. If you don’t, you’ll be allowing them to get used to a disposable income they can never hope to have again.
Exception: If Sonny or Darling are putting every extra penny to student loan repayment.
Rule #2: Establish ground rules for living together. They are adults, you can’t tell them when to come home. You also don’t cook all the meals, wash all the clothes and take out the garbage. Everyone is part of the community and has to chip in. Your home is not a dorm room. Nor is it a hotel. Your children will want to entertain friends (including the sleepover kind) and you better talk about how you feel about that, and how you’ll do it, so you don’t end up hating each other.
Exception: If the kid’s not working, then the kid does everything in the house until (s)he has the money to start paying rent.
Rule #3: Set a time limit. Is Sonny doing this till the student loans are gone? You better make sure he’s not on the 10-year plan. Is Darling staying home until she gets married because that’s part of your family’s culture? Have a back-up plan if no knight comes riding in to swoop her away. Living at home shouldn’t be the easy way out. If Sonny is having trouble finding work, he needs to know being picky about where he’ll work at isn’t an option. Loads of people have to work at jobs that aren’t perfect because they have to keep a roof over their heads.
Exception: If you plan to hand over the home and move from primary home-owner to in-resident senior.
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